Storytelling’s 10 Must-Read Books for 2013

During this time of year, it’s hard to find a perfect gift for friends, colleagues or clients.

Being obsessed with story like I am, I find books (and chocolate) are always a good bet when it comes to giving. Whether you’re looking for a last-minute gift, or you just want catch up on some reading during the winter break, check out my Top 10 Must-Read Books for 2013 below.

There’s an eclectic mix of storytelling genres, from fiction to story business basics to coffee table art. If any of these call out to you, click on the book covers or titles and you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can learn more.

Post a comment below and let me know which one of these is your favorite. Or if you’ve read any other great storytelling related books lately, share your recommendations with us.

1. The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

This personal, lyrical narrative about storytelling and empathy from award winner Rebecca Solnit is a fitting companion to her beloved A Field Guide for Getting Lost. Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. Perfect for anyone reader who loves magical realism.

2. Business Storytelling for Dummies by Karen Dietz and Lori L. Silverman

Hot off the press and written by two long-time colleagues in the storytelling world. In line with the famous book series “For Dummies,” Karen and Lori break down the telling of stories in a straightforward and approachable manner. Full of how-to, templates, and examples.

3. Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again by Christina Rasmussen

A brilliant self-help guide for anybody in the midst of reinventing their story after major loss or grief. This book is written in a combo of lyrical prose along with reflective exercises designed to empower and re-story yourself. Watch out, Christina is an author on the move!

4. Catch the Fire: An Art-full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults and Communities by Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

If you facilitate groups of any kind, and want to unleash the creative soul in the room, this is your book. I recently attended a 3-day gathering facilitated by Peggy, and her approach was breathtaking and magical. In this just-published book, you can learn how to do the same. Includes more than 100 stimulating activities incorporating storytelling, theater, writing, visual arts, music, and movement.

5. True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business by Ty Montague 

Written by a former ad executive who now runs a growth and innovation accelerator, True Story offers a simple matrix for how brands can bring their promise to life through actions and experiences that audiences can feel. A solid storytelling book for anyone in the brand, innovation, advertising space.

6. Building Stories by Chris Ware

This coffee table collectible and graphic novel, if it can be called that, pushes the boundaries in the storytelling medium. Chris Ware does away with the book format in favor of a huge box containing 14 differently sized, formatted, and bound pieces: books, pamphlets, broadsheets, scraps, and even a unfoldable board that would be at home in a Monopoly box. It’s all about the grind and folly of everyday life, presented in an artistic, multimedia fashion. Perfect for the art-house hipster. 

7. Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince and Inspire by Paul Smith

Paul is a former director of R&D at Procter and Gamble, and his book is full of guidance on the role of crafting an individual anecdote and story. Contains ready-to-use stories and how-to guidance on how to use story to communicate your vision, sell an idea, build relationships and inspire others. 

8. What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story by Michael Bosworth and Ben Zoldan 

If you want to better understand the science of story, and its effect on business decision-making, this is a practical book. Written from the perspective of sales, influence, and trust, this book will teach you how to go beyond “solution selling” to build emotional connection and close more deals.

9. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis 

This book of fiction made Oprah’s Book Club. In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd, swept up by the tides of the Great Migration, flees Georgia and heads north. She marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment, and gives birth to 11 children—two of whom die of illness. This story, captured here in twelve luminous threads, tells the story of a mother’s monumental courage—and a nation’s tumultuous journey.

10. Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process by Louis Mehl-Medrona and Thom Hartmann 

With our recent work in healthcare, we’ve gone back to this seminal classic. Louis, both an MD and a shaman, examines the indigenous use of story as a healing modality. Referencing numerous case histories, he shows how when we learn to dialogue with disease, we come to understand the power of the “story” we tell about our illness and our possibilities for better health.

What were your favorite books from 2013? 

We’d love to hear what’s on your reading stack. Add your recommendations in the comments below.